One of 32 federal inmates transported from Oklahoma City to the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood on Monday was taken to Geisinger Medical Center and tested for COVID-19. The tests are still pending, prompting U.S. Rep. Fred Keller to increase his efforts to halt the movement of prisoners into Pennsylvania.
“These sets of facts are disturbing and unacceptable," said Keller who wrote Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal another letter Tuesday requesting that no more inmates be moved from out-of-state into Pennsylvania. "Clearly, BOP cannot guarantee the safety of BOP inmates, employees, their families or the broader community. As such, continuing to move inmates throughout the BOP system while COVID-19 continues to spread is a mistake and must be immediately stopped.”
Andy Kline, president of Local 148 representing officers at U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg, said "dozens" of inmates were brought into the state and taken by bus to the Lewisburg prison and Allenwood. Several of them, including the sick inmate who was tested, exhibited "signs of physical distress, cough and some had fevers," he said.
The sick inmate who was taken to Geisinger with coronavirus symptoms was tested and "is no longer in the hospital" even though the results are still pending, Kline said.
On Monday, Keller, Kline and Shane Fausey, national president of the Council of Prison, spoke out against the BOP's decision to move federal inmates, particularly those being held in New York City where the rate of infection is much higher, to keep the potentially deadly disease from spreading.
"Those of us at these institutions are doing everything we can to keep the public safe but we have no control or authority to stop inmate movement," Kline said. We appreciate and want to thank Congressman Keller, Senators (Pat) Toomey and (Bob) Casey for trying to help us stop this transport but obviously, the BOP takes their orders from a higher authority and has no plans on stopping even more transports currently planned for the future."